Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.

Mountain states fortify vast propane country

March 8, 2021 By    

Vast land coverage and lower populations might best describe the four states featured in February’s Propane Fuels America series.

“A state like Wyoming – that’s one of the biggest states with the least amount of population, so we have a whole bunch of area to cover,” says Tom Clark, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association (RMPA), which also includes Idaho, Montana and Utah.

Wyoming and Montana both rank among the largest states by land area and also have among the lowest populations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, Wyoming is the least populated state with about 579,000 residents.

“It gives us some logistics challenges for membership meetings,” Clark says of the large state coverage area. “I hear a lot of states put on different meetings that are quarterly or monthly; that would be challenging for us to travel around and do those types of smaller meetings.”

This geographic and demographic dynamic also impacts propane gallon sales compared to other states. The four RMPA states total about 60 percent (338 million gallons) of the nation’s No. 1 state for gallon sales in 2019 (Michigan with 587 million gallons), according to the latest Annual Retail Propane Sales Report, prepared by ICF for the Propane Education & Research Council.

To protect his states’ gallon sales, Clark spends much of his time and energy on combating natural gas expansion, “which is pretty heavy right now,” he says, and “electrify everything” challenges. He sees threats to propane mainly in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

“Sometimes you see bills get snuck in at the last minute and you’re rushed to dig up information,” says Clark, detailing examples of rate-payer increase attempts to fund gas installation or electrification projects. “At least with some of these, we’ve got pretty good forewarning.”

The RMPA states are well known for their national parks. Some drew a record number of visitors last year as Americans sought socially distanced outdoor activities and vacation spots during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You see bicycles sold out, RVs sold out across the nation,” Clark says. “These people were taking these outdoor products and going to our states.”

While the RMPA states are popular for tourists, they are also positioned in a way that feeds other regions in need of propane supply during high-demand situations. It’s not uncommon, Clark says, to see trucks from the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest and California pulling supply.

Map image: Kolonko/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

Comments are currently closed.